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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Johnny Ford enters race for state Senate

Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford launched a bid to return to the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday.

Ford, who served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 until 2004, announced he will run for state Senate District 28, which includes all or part of Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon and Russell counties.

Ford said people in the district should have the right to vote on any issue, including gambling. He did not say whether he supported gambling, but said VictoryLand is a major employer in Macon County.

As a former mayor, Ford said he would fight for county government. He said he supports home rule that allows cities and counties to make some decisions without approval from Montgomery.

"In the Legislature, we spent too much time dealing with local issues," Ford said.

He said he is running because he wants to help the people in the district where he was born and raised.
The district is currently represented by Democratic Sen. Myron Penn of Union Springs, who told the Montgomery Advertiser he will not run for reelection if a candidate steps forward with a "positive image and energy."

"I am actually interested in seeing some people emerge," he said. "If somebody comes forward who can put forward a positive energy, yes, I will not run. ... If no one emerges, I will run for reelection."

Penn said Ford has a right to run, but said in a statement that "I want the citizens of our community to have a state senator they can be proud of--not just an opportunist who wants to take advantage of an open election."

"It is of the utmost importance to me that we continue this forward momentum and image for Senate District 28 and not slip back to the days of politics serving the needs of the politician instead of the needs of the people," he said in the statement. "Therefore, I will refrain from making a decision on the 2010 elections until I feel comfortable that there will be Senate candidates who will share the same vision I have for the future rather than a selfish agenda to turn back to 'old-days' politics."

Penn, who is in his second term in the Senate, said he is leaning toward not running and instead growing his law offices in Union Springs and Clayton.

When asked about Penn’s comments, Ford said his campaign would remain positive and he thanked the senator for his service.

"Yes, I am an opportunist," he responded. "I see an opportunity for the people of the 28th District to have new leadership."

Ford said people do not know Penn's plans.

Ford was flanked at his Tuesday announcement at the State House by supporters from each of the six counties in the district.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Sen. Myron Penn's statement on Johnny Ford running for state Senate District 28

"As always, I am focused on helping the people of my district, both as state senator and as a lawyer. While I am leaning toward spending more time and energy helping people even more with my law firm’s growing practice, I also want to make certain that we continue with the progress we have made---maintaining and bringing jobs to the area, improving schools, and addressing the everyday issues of the people I have had the privilege to serve for the last seven years. It is of the utmost importance to me that we continue this forward momentum and image for senate district 28 and not slip back to the days of politics serving the needs of the politician instead of the needs of the people. Therefore, I will refrain from making a decision on the 2010 elections until I feel comfortable that there will be senate candidates who will share the same vision I have for the future rather than a selfish agenda to turn back to "old-days" politics.

"I take these responsibilities very seriously and would never rush such an important decision. I want the citizens of our community to have a state senator they can be proud of—not just an opportunist who wants to take advantage of an open election. In coming weeks and after much thought and prayer, I feel that I will be prepared to make an announcement regarding my plans for 2010. However, whether as a state senator or an attorney representing the people of my community, I will continue to work tirelessly to improve the lives of the people of District 28 and the State of Alabama."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Franken, former SNL star, wins U.S. Senate seat

Several media outlets including USA Today are reporting that Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken has won the highly contested U.S. Senate race in Minnesota over incumbent Norm Coleman.
The appeals have stretched on since the November election, in which Coleman was originally in the lead.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Franken should be seated, according to USA Today. See story at:

Franken's victory gives Democrats 60 members in the Senate and is crucial to Democrats and their agenda.
Coleman might be the first sitting senator to lose to a Saturday Night Live star.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Monday, June 29, 2009

Johnny Ford to run for state Senate

Former state legislator and former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford plans to announce Tuesday morning that he is running for the Alabama state Senate. He will run for the District 28 seat currently held by Myron Penn, a Democrat from Union Springs.
The District includes all or part of Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon and Russell counties.
Ford, who will run as a Democrat, will make his announcement at the Alabama State House. He is currently founder and secretary-general of the World Conference of Mayors, Inc., which is headquartered in Tuskegee.
He recently lost his bid for reelection as mayor.
Ford said the district needs a senator that will fight for new industry and for agriculture. He said he would conduct town hall meetings in each city in the district and would visit every city council and county commission in the district. The former mayor also said he would encourage people to call him and said he would make himself available to his constituents if elected.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Davis adds Bright, Strange campaign manager to team

The gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Artur Davis has hired two well-known political consultants, including the man who managed the successful campaigns of U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, to help with his 2010 race.
Davis, D-Birmingham, announced on Monday that he has hired David Mowery of Mowery Consulting Group LLC and Joey Ceci of Main Street Strategies in Huntsville as senior advisers.
Mowery, who recently started his own consulting operation in Montgomery, managed the highly successful campaigns of Bright and Strange. Bright was the first Democrat to win in the 2nd Congressional District in more than 40 years.
Ceci managed the campaigns of U.S. Reps. Bud Cramer and Parker Griffith, both Huntsville Democrats. Davis applauded Ceci's knowledge and experience in north Alabama and Mowery's work in south Alabama and the Wiregrass.
"When it comes to winning elections in Alabama, Joey Ceci and David Mowery are at the top of the ladder," Davis said in a statement. "Both Joey and David have a proven track record of winning hard-fought races in parts of our state that have been trending Republican. They are also experts in fending off the Republican attack machine that gears up every two years. ... Joey Ceci and David Mowery give us a powerful one-two punch in two regions that may hold the key to the 2010 governor's race."
Mowery has also worked on the campaigns of former Gov. Don Siegelman, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, and Sam Jones, who was elected the first black mayor of Mobile.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Love Will Seek Re-Election to House Seat

Citing a possible Republican takeover of the Alabama House in the 2010 election cycle, State Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, announced Tuesday that he will forego another campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat to seek reelection to the office he currently holds.

"The 2010 election cycle is important to the Alabama Republican Party, and with just a few seats separating us from holding a majority in the State House of Representatives, having experienced and proven leadership is vital," Love said in a statement. "After much thought and soul-searching, I feel that I can best serve my constituents, my neighbors and my fellow Alabamians by seeking reelection to the District 74 House seat."

Defeating several fellow Republicans in the 2008 primary and run-off elections for the 2nd Congressional District nomination, Love was narrowly defeated by .6% of the vote in a general election heavily targeted by both national parties.

Love was elected to the Alabama Legislature in November of 2002 and is currently serving his second term in office. He holds the position of Minority Whip in the Alabama Republican Caucus leadership and serves as the Ranking Republican member of the House Constitution and Elections Committee. He also serves on the Government Finance and Appropriations budget-writing committee.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Shelby and Davis Sponsor State Housing Recover Measures

The Disaster State Housing Recovery Act, a measure to help fund the construction of shovel-ready affordable housing ventures in disaster-affected states like Alabama, was introduced today by U.S. Reps. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham and Charles Boustany, R-Louisiana, in the House and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, in the Senate Tuesday.

The country is facing an affordable housing financing shortage and developers have found it difficult to monetize their Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in the midst of an economic downturn. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sought to resolve this issue by allowing states to exchange a portion of their credits for 85 cents on the dollar, providing an estimated $3 billion in grants to jumpstart stalled projects in 2009.

However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is ambiguous about so-called “disaster credits” – extra housing credits allocated to thirteen states under the GO Zone Act of 2005 and the Heartland Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2008. According to Treasury, the law does not currently permit disaster credits to be included in this exchange. The Disaster State Housing Recovery Act will correct this inequity and allow disaster-affected states like Alabama to claim the benefits that Congress intended when it provided these special credits.

“The purpose of GO Zone is to help address the shortage of decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable rental housing in the areas that were adversely impacted during the 2005 hurricane season,” Shelby said. “Unfortunately, due to the current economic situation and credit crisis, GO Zone rental housing development plans have been halted. This legislation will ensure that project sponsors are allowed to exchange their GO Zone Housing Credits for cash grants so that they will be able to continue to construct affordable rental housing.”

“This common-sense legislation will boost affordable housing opportunities for Alabama families struggling in the midst of a very difficult economy,” said Congressman Davis. “It is essential that states like Alabama are able to access every available resource to stimulate the economy and encourage affordable housing options.”

States with GO Zone or Heartland Act credits include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Bright: Update from Washington for 6-22-09

Check out U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright's column for this week:

Last week, my colleagues in Congress and I focused on two major bills that provide necessary improvements and look boldly toward the future for our men and women in the Armed Services.
On last Tuesday, the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill that gives troops serving overseas the much needed updates to safety and weaponry they need to accomplish their mission and adds provisions to keep terrorists off of our home soil. And on last Wednesday, the Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010, which funds the Department of Defense and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The full House is expected to vote on the Defense Authorization Act this week.
The supplemental appropriations bill passed by a broad, bi-partisan majority when it was first considered last month. The vote was closer last week, however, because the Senate added controversial funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Though I strongly disagree with any plan to make credit available to foreign nations during a time in which people right here in America are tightening their belts to make ends meet, I supported the supplemental because there is nothing more important that protecting those brave men and women who defend our freedoms. For me, a vote to support our troops will never be compromised by political games. I am pleased that my Alabama colleagues in the House- Congressmen Artur Davis and Parker Griffith- and our two Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, shared those values.

In addition to providing troops with new equipment and additional resources, the supplemental appropriations contained several other important provisions. It makes investments in military health care, including new hospital construction. It also increases funding for preventing attacks from roadside bombs and for mine-resistant vehicles. Understanding the sacrifices our soldiers have made, the bill gives soldiers serving involuntarily under stop loss with an additional $500 a month for each additional month they served under stop loss. Furthermore, the supplemental prevents terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from being released onto the mainland United States.

While the supplemental makes emergency appropriations, the NDAA allocates money the Department of Defense and, for the first time, proactively budgets money for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It passed out of the Armed Services Committee by a unanimous, bi-partisan 61-0 margin. The NDAA authorizes a total of $680 billion for military spending, ensuring we are doing what is needed for our soldiers.

Included in the NDAA is a 3.4% pay raise for the military, which is .5% over the President’s budget requests and brings the military closer in line with private sector pay raises. It also increases the size of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines in order to meet increased force requirements.
To meet the challenges presented by missile attacks from rogue nations, the NDAA increases funding for the THAAD missile, which combats in-theater attacks from missiles and is built in Troy. The committee crafted the budget for missile defense based on recommendations made by with Secretary of Defense Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, and other generals who are experts in the field.

As a member of Congress who represents a district with one of the highest concentrations of military and veterans in the country, there is nothing more important to me than doing right for our men and women in uniform. As we approach the July 4th holiday, I firmly believe we should all honor the patriots who have sacrificed to make America the greatest country in the history of the world.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our offices in Montgomery at (334) 277-9113, Dothan at (334) 794-9680, Opp at (334) 493-9253, or Ozark at (334) 445-4600. You can also visit the website at to sign up for the e-newsletter. It is my great pleasure to serve you and the entire Second District of Alabama.
-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Friday, June 19, 2009

Public Policy Polling Analysis Shows Davis Already Doing Better Among Whites Than Obama

Last fall, exit polls showed Barack Obama winning just 10% of the white vote in Alabama, but Tom Jensen, communications director for Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling says that doesn't mean Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Artur Davis will experience the same fate.

Jensen said experts have pointed to those numbers and questioned whether Davis is really a viable candidate for governor, but he said Davis is starting out in a much better position than people might think.

According to Public Policy Polling, Davis is already earning more than twice as much support among white voters than Obama received against four potential Republican opponents the firm tested him against last week. He gets 21% against Bradley Byrne, 24% against Tim James, 27% against Kay Ivey, and 30% against Roy Moore.

That's about even with 28, 30, 35, and 21% of whites who were undecided in each of those respective contests, Jensen said.

"We calculate that Davis will need to win about a third of the white vote to be elected governor,"Jensen said in an e-mail. "He's certainly not there yet, but given the good start he's off to and the fact that many are undecided -- and thus not automatically writing off a black candidate -- he has a decent chance."

This analysis is also available on Public Policy Polling's Blog:

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bentley bashes Obama health care plan

Gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Robert Bentley is criticizing the health care plan of President Barack Obama, which the president discussed at length on Monday when he addressed the American Medical Association.
Bentley, R-Tuscaloosa and a dermatologist, criticized Washington's involvement in health care in a statement released Wednesday. He called the proposal a "dangerous path" and said it is full of red tape and mandates.
The doctor said the government and insurance companies have taken the personalization and choice out of health care.
"For many years, the doctor-patient relationship has been compromised by government mandates and health insurance companies, and we are continuing down a dangerous path if we embrace President Obama's plan for health care," Bentley said. "Those of us providing medical care know that Washington government bureaucrats and health insurance companies have interfered in the delivery of health care in America. Government regulation has taken the personalization and choice out of our health care system--choices that should be made by patients. The Obama plan, chock full of red tape and excessive mandates will further complicate an already broken system."
Obama spoke in "lofty terms" about the need to make health care affordable and accessible, Bentley said.
"We applaud that goal," but the lawmaker said the president did not outline either the cost of the plan or how it would be funded. " ... I suspect like most Washington proposals, the brunt of the Obama health care plan will be born by the taxpayers at a time we can least afford it."
Bentley challenged his fellow doctors "to do more to keep the costs of medical care down by addressing prevention and reducing unnecessary utilization and tests. We have a responsibility to make medicine more personal and efficient, and we can only do that if we limit rather than expand the role of government."
People can find more about Bentley's health care proposals at
He has said he will promote health savings accounts and would establish The Alabama Health Service Corps to encourage medical students to practice primary care and to serve in underserved rural areas.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tim James names Chuck Carver as Statewide Field Director

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James announced Tuesday Chuck Carver as his statewide field director with responsibility for organizing and implementing grassroots operations.

Carver held a similar position with Todd Strange during his successful campaign for mayor of Montgomery. Carver also will be responsible for the recruitment of volunteers and the implementation of the campaign’s field operation. For the James campaign, he will coordinate the grassroots activities of the campaign’s eight regional directors and their county chairs, coordinators and municipal chairs.

“Chuck’s organizational skills, disciplined approach to problem-solving and leadership skills make him an important member of our team,” James said in a statement.

Carver said that James has already assembled a strong team of supporters throughout the state.

"In the next 11 months of the primary phase of the campaign, we will have built a formidable force on the ground,” Carver said in a statement.

Following an Air Force career as a senior officer, Carver spent several years at Kennedy Space Center working logistics on the payload side of the Space Shuttle. He then moved to a career as an executive in industry, including automotive, aviation and heat exchanger manufacturers. He since has consulted for numerous national and international industrial companies. Carver has been a member of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Committee of 100, Rotary Club, School to Career Work Force Development, Council Chair of the Tukahatchee Area Council for Boy Scouts of America, and an elder for the Young Meadows Presbyterian (PCA) Church. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Carver is married to the former Elisabeth Rosier of London, England, and has three sons: Major Charles Carver USAF, Michael Carver of CRH Group of Clanton, and Christopher Carver of Whitney Bank, all living in the Montgomery area.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Monday, June 15, 2009

Beasley joins Artur Davis campaign

Prominent trial lawyer and former Lt. Gov. Jere Beasley has been asked and has agreed to serve as the chairman of U.S. Rep. Artur Davis’s campaign for governor.
Beasley, a power player in state Democratic politics, announced his support during a teleconference with reporters on Monday. Davis, a Birmingham Democrat and former federal prosecutor, is a Montgomery native.
Beasley said he has seen many governors, Democrats and Republicans, and the "best governors had a definite leadership quality and I see that in Artur Davis." He said he believes Davis can help attract jobs, help the state transform and "unlock its full potential," and has the ability to bring people together.
"He has proven in Congress he can work with Republicans and work with Democrats," Beasley said. " ... He just has that unique ability to lead."
His announcement comes a year before the Democratic primary with at least one notable Democratic candidate still considering a run for governor in 2010.
The former lieutenant governor, who served from 1971 to 1979, said he agreed to support Davis before there was ever talk of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb entering the race. Cobb, the only Democrat on the nine-member court, has said she is considering a run.
Beasley and other trial lawyers actively supported Cobb in her 2006 win over then-Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, who was appointed to the office by Republican Gov. Bob Riley.
"First of all, I have had no conversation with the chief justice," Beasley said. "She is doing a good job there. It's her call whether she runs for governor. I think most people would like to see her stay."
He said he was not trying to send a message to any other candidate by supporting Davis at this juncture.
"He is the right man for the job, and I know that he can and will be Alabama’s next governor," Beasley said of the congressman.
Davis, Beasley said, showed he is skilled at raising funds during his runs for Congress and believes the candidate can raise the millions needed to run a competitive race for governor. He said any serious candidate will need to raise $10 million to $12 million.
Davis, in a statement, said he was honored Beasley agreed to serve in a major leadership role in his campaign.
Beasley previously endorsed Riley and Gov. Fob James, both Republicans. He was lieutenant governor while George Wallace was governor.
"I believe Artur Davis has a vision for Alabama," Beasley said, adding that the vision would help to ensure the state’s economic success. "We've got to move into the 21st Century full steam ahead. He has the ability to lead and do the things necessary to attract jobs for the 21st century.
"He in my judgment is the ideal candidate for the times."
When asked, Beasley said he believes a black man can be elected governor in Alabama.
"I surely hope we are past that day in Alabama," he said. " ... I do not believe race will be a deciding factor one way or another."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Friday, June 12, 2009

Ron Sparks in the Spotlight

Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks will interview with Fox New's Glen Beck tonight.

Sparks, who is one of the Democratic candidate for governor, Ron Sparks will appear at 4 p.m. central time on the Fox News channel.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Polling shows 2010 race for governor will be competitive

Former two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne and U.S. Rep. Artur Davis lead the pack, but other candidates would be competitive in a general election race for governor, according to numbers released Wednesday by a national polling firm.
The Public Policy Polling survey shows that Byrne, a Republican, leads Davis 39-35 in a head-to head match up, but that the Democratic congressman would finish ahead of state Treasurer Kay Ivey, former Chief Justice Roy Moore and Greenville businessman Tim James, all Republicans.

The survey also shows Byrne leading Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks 41-27, but the commissioner performs better with white voters than Davis, who would be Alabama's first black governor.
Davis's lead over Moore, 41-38, and James, 37-35, is within the margin of error, which is 3.8 percent. His advantage over Ivey is 39-31.
Sparks finished ahead of Ivey, 33-29. He tied with James at 32 percent, and trails Moore 38-36.

"These numbers indicate Alabama is going to have a quite vibrant race for governor next year," said Dean Debnam, president of the polling firm. "Most of these matches look to be competitive at this early stage."

Democrats also have trouble winning over white voters, which would need to improve for Democrats to take back the governor's seat, according to a release from Public Policy Polling.

At least 30 percent of independents are undecided in each of the potential match ups, which the release states will lead to a "tight battle next fall to pick up voters in the middle."

The poll does indicate many people are undecided with as many as 39 percent of people in some potential match ups not knowing who they would vote for.
Public Policy Polling of North Carolina surveyed 667 Alabama voters from June 2 to June 5. The firm uses robocalls in which people enter their choice on the dial pad.
In the poll, 14 percent of people identified themselves as liberal, 37 percent as moderate and 49 percent as conservative.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans with 38 percent responding Democrats.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Republicans pick up state Senate seat in special election

Republican Paul Sanford defeated Democratic state Rep. Laura Hall in a special election in Madison County on Tuesday to become Alabama's next state senator.
Sanford will represent the district that was represented just months ago by Sen. Parker Griffith, a Huntsville Democrat who was elected to Congress in November. Republicans will now have an additional member when the Legislature convenes in January.
The Republican businessman easily won the District 7 seat.
The Alabama Republican Party worked hard and spent heavily to win two state Senate special elections, but lost the first and many expected Sanford to lose on Tuesday.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Monday, June 8, 2009

Congressman Bright Hunting Guns and Amo

U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright and wife, Judge Lynn Bright, stopped by Bass Pro Shops in Prattville over the weekend. Montgomery Advertiser business reporter Cosby Woodruff bumped into Bright at the store, but this was no publicity stunt. The Brights were just enjoying a bit of shopping.

According to Cosby, the freshman congressman purchased a Winchester gun and complained about lack of ammo for the gun. The former Montgomery mayor did note, however, that the store charged him 10 percent sales tax -- not the lower rate he has always heard so much about for Prattville. Bass Pro Shops has a special higher sales tax to cover the incentives for the store. Everywhere else in Prattville the sales tax is 8.5 percent.
Bright represents District 2, which includes Elmore and Autuaga counties, and a chunk of Montgomery County that includes part of the city of Montgomery.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Photos of the Davis campaign kickoff III

The following are photos of U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, addressing the crowd at has official campaign kickoff in Linn Park in Birmingham. The Montgomery native is running for governor.

Photos of the Davis Campaign Kickoff II

The following are photos of former "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard performing at the campaign kickoff for Artur Davis's run for governor. He performed one song in Linn Park in Birmingham. Davis, a Montgomery native, is a Democratic U.S. representative from Birmingham.

Photos of the Davis campaign kickoff

The following are pictures of protesters at U.S. Rep. Artur Davis's campaign kickoff for governor on Saturday in Linn Park in Birmingham.

Davis kicks off campaign, takes shots at 'forces' in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM -- U.S. Rep. Artur Davis used a fellow Birmingham success story to help him formally kick off his campaign for governor on Saturday.
Ruben Studdard, the soulful winner of the second season of "American Idol," joined Davis for the event in Linn Park, which included music, food and a few anti-Davis protesters.
Davis, a Birmingham Democrat, toured the state in February to announce he was running, but his kickoff event comes the first week candidates can begin to raise money for 2010. A diverse crowd of more than 500 people attended the event and were treated to one song by Studdard, a former Grammy nominee. He sang his single "Flying Without Wings," which he dedicated to Davis.
But unlike Studdard, who was coaxed by a friend into auditioning for "American Idol," Davis has been aiming for Alabama's highest office for years. His announcement he was running for governor had been for more than a year by political observers in the state.
Some people are not as excited to see Davis seeking another office.
Protesters held up signs aligning Davis with former President George W. Bush and big business; saying he did not represent Jefferson County well during his four terms in the U.S. House; and saying they were tired of his speeches.
Using a theme similar to his ally and fellow Harvard Law School graduate, President Barack Obama, Davis said his campaign will be about change.
For too long, the candidate said, "forces" with "old ideas" in the state have said what Alabama is not capable of accomplishing.
"This will not be a campaign heavy on promises," he said, but gave one to the people in attendance. "Alabama is ready for the 21st Century."
After his speech, Davis would not specify which "forces" he was referring to, but said some readers of the newspaper might know. He said they are from different political persuasions.
"This campaign will be about changing Alabama’s mindset," he said.
Davis, a Montgomery native, has said he is not the establishment candidate and there have been talks about other prominent Democrats entering the race since Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. said he will run for reelection and not for governor.
During his speech, Davis said his administration would not pit young adults against children or K-12 against higher education.
People in Alabama expect football teams to be in the top 25 and Davis said they should have the same standards for public education.
"Forty-two isn't good enough," he said.
Again echoing Obama, Davis said he would need people for more than the next 18 months of the campaign. He said he would need them for the four years of his administration. People need to be mobilized to reform this state and Davis said he would "constantly campaign" to break barriers.
He said he would be a pro-business governor, which he said equates to being pro-education. Being pro-business, Davis said, does not mean a candidate must be anti-union and anti-environment.
"I'm not going to raise taxes on individuals," the congressman said, but added some out-of-state corporate landowners need to "pay their fair share."
When asked how he might be able to accomplish ethics reform or tax those companies when some other governors have been unsuccessful, Davis said he must be the "persuader-in-chief."
Davis's campaign goals include ethics reform, creating a cabinet-level position to help with economic development in struggling rural counties, raising the state's mandatory school attendance age to 18, and supporting charter schools. He said he would call legislators back to Montgomery for a special session to address ethics reform soon after taking office.
The congressman said his ethics plan is the most sweeping ethics reform ever proposed in Alabama. He wants to eliminate all gifts to lawmakers.
State Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery, was in attendance, wearing a "Davis 2010" sticker. He said he was there to "support a kid out of the neighborhood." The legislator said he is very proud of the Montgomery native, who was raised by a single mother.
"We appreciate what he has done in his career to this point and he has great potential," McClammy said.
He also applauded Davis for spending as much time in some of the poor rural counties in his district as he does in Jefferson County.
"He looks at the needs of people — not how many are there," McClammy said. "He goes where the needs are."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen
Friday, June 5, 2009

Prattville City Councilman to Run for Senate 30 Seat

Republican and Prattville Councilman Ray Boles announced Friday that he will be a candidate for Senate District 30 during the 2010 election cycle. Senate District 30 includes all of Butler, Pike and Crenshaw counties and parts of Autauga, Elmore and Lowndes Counties and is currently represented by Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne.

“I am honored to announce that I am a Republican candidate for State Senate District 30,” Boles said in a statement. “I am very humbled by the encouragement and support I have received, and I look forward to campaigning throughout Senate District 30 in the coming months.

Boles, a lifelong resident of Prattville and a business owner, said that Alabama's greatest resource in this part of the state is the people and he believes their conservative principles and values will move Alabama forward.

"I believe in these same conservative principles and values, and that is why I am running as a Republican. The Alabama Senate has for too long been beholden to the Democratic special interests in Montgomery," he said. "I believe that the Republican Party’s principles of smaller government and dedication to growing small businesses will improve our district and our state. I intend to use my business and civic experience for the citizens of our district so that we can create more jobs and improve our schools. I will fight for ethics reform in state government, and I pledge to represent our district with the honesty and integrity that our citizens deserve.

"The Republican Party has seen tremendous growth in Alabama in recent years. I look forward to being a part of its continued success," he said.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Assistant Commissioner to run for Top Ag Job

Glen Zorn, assistant commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, will declare his candidacy for the statewide office of Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries for the 2010 Elections before a hometown audience on June 8.

Zorn will make his annoucement at the Florala Utilities Building community room (Old Alabama Power Co. building) at 5 p.m.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

State Rep. James Thomas Declares Candidacy for Sanders' Seat

State Rep. James Thomas, 65, announced Friday that he is running for the Alabama Senate next year. Thomas is a candidate in the 23rd Senate District, the seat being vacated by Sen. Hank Sanders, who announced his retirement this week.

"Both Senator Sanders and I have been fighting for the Black Belt for more than 20 years," Thomas said in a statement. "We have done good work together, but there is more to be done. I believe that we need someone with experience and dedication to serve as our state senator, and that is why I am running. I ask for your prayers and your vote in next June’s Democratic primary."

Thomas said the two most important issues facing the district are jobs and education, and they are two areas where the Wilcox Central High School principal says he has a proven track record.
"As a person who has dedicated his life to public schools, I know the importance of education. We need to keep the progress going that we’ve made in the past ten years. We need to fight for more resources, and to fund things that we know improve teaching and learning," Thomas said. "As our education improves, so does the economy of our region."

As a representative, Thomas said in a statement that he has worked in the state Legislature on economic efforts like the Hyundai plant, which brought jobs in its plant as well as employment from suppliers who have located in the region.

"Our traditional industries have been hard hit in this slumping economy. We need to look for other homegrown ways of economic development like biodiesel and other alternative energy efforts, as well as be on the constant lookout for other industries to locate in the Black Belt,"Thomas said. "And we need to look at things like entertainment and tourism to bring folks to our area and create jobs at home."

The 23rd Senate District is one of the largest and most rural in Alabama, encompassing all or parts of Dallas, Wilcox, Lowndes, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Marengo, Perry and Autauga counties.

Thomas, who will be 66 this month, received his B.S. and M.A. from Alabama State University. He and his wife, Evelyn, are the parents of a daughter, Angela Carter. He also is a member of the First Missionary Baptist Church in White Hall, the Alabama and National Education Associations, and the Administrators Association. Thomas also serves as lifetime president emeritus of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sanders will not run for reelection

State Sen. Hank Sanders, who has helped to craft the state’s education budget for years, confirmed on Thursday that he would not seek another term in the Legislature.
The Selma Democrat said, instead, he will focus his efforts on other endeavors including writing a series of books he started several years ago and has been unable to finish. He is in his seventh term in the Senate, which ends in 2010.
"This political phase of my life is complete, and it is time for me to move on to new challenges, new responsibilities and new commitments," Sanders said in a statement released to several media outlets on Thursday.
During the last legislative session, which concluded last month, Sanders said he was leaning toward not running again. He said his soul was pushing him in another direction.
In the statement, Sanders said he had been struggling with the decision for months.
"This decision has weighed heavy on my mind and heart and did not come easy," he said.
His retirement will create a vacancy for the much-coveted chairmanship of the Senate education budget committee.
"As chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee, I committed myself to the school children of this state, and tried to make a real difference in the programs, the teaching and the environment in which our children live and learn," he said. "I hope our children will continue to be a priority of the state Senate and the state of Alabama."
Even Republican Gov. Bob Riley, who does not often praise Democrats, applauded Sanders for his work on the most recent education budget, which used federal stimulus money to help save the jobs of thousands of education employees during these tough financial times.
"When it came down to it, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure to cut these programs, but I think he understands probably more than anybody in the Senate how much this has done for rural Alabama schools," Riley said in a release when he signed the $6.2 billion budget. "I want to thank him for standing up to the political opposition that he faced."
District 23, which he represents, includes all or part of Autauga, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, and Wilcox counties.
Sanders, a practicing attorney, is a Baldwin County native and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He has received more than 200 awards and recognitions, according to the state Senate’s Web site.
Wallace Community College Selma named one of its newest additions the Hank Sanders Technology Center.
Sanders, 66, is one of several Senate veterans who has said he will not run again in 2010. Other senators include Democrat Bobby Denton of Muscle Shoals and Republican Charles Bishop of Jasper.
With retirements, other departures, a death, a corruption conviction and an election to Congress, the Senate will start the 2011 session with at least eight different members in the 35-member body than the beginning of the current four-year term and more retirements could be announced in the coming year.

— posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Former Mobile County GOP Chairman Joins Tim James for Governor

Former Mobile County Republican Party Chairman Mark Erwin announced Thursday that he will be the county coordinator for Tim James for Governor.

Last week, James named former Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman David Wheeler as his county coordinator there, and longtime GOP activist Becky Vasko of Silverhill as his Baldwin County coordinator, according to the James campaign.

“The past four years, Mark Erwin has worked tirelessly to build a strong Republican Party in Mobile County. I look forward to working with Mark as we move forward with building a strong campaign organization,” James sai, in a statement.

Erwin, of the law firm, Satterwhite & Erwin LLC of Mobile, will be responsible for building a grass-roots campaign organization in Mobile County.

“Tim James has demonstrated his leadership abilities as a moving force for leaner, more responsive state government. He’s the kind of Conservative Republican governor we need for Alabama,” Erwin said in a statement.

A member of Mobile County’s Republican Executive Committee and the Alabama GOP Executive Committee for 10 years, Erwin served two terms as county GOP chair until this past January. He’s been an attorney, practicing in Mobile County, since 1998, clerking for Circuit Judge Joseph S. “Rusty” Johnston of Mobile County for a year following graduation from University of Alabama School of Law. He’s a graduate from Freed-Hardeman University. Erwin is a native of Mobile and graduate of Mobile Christian High School.

He and partner Harry Satterwhite formed Satterwhite and Erwin LLC in June 2001. Erwin is a member of the Alabama Association of Municipal Attorneys. He served 2 years as Judge of Probate under Judge Don Davis, Mobile County Probate Judge. Serving temporary Judge for City of Saraland.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grimes will run for reelection

State Rep. David Grimes joked that he had mixed emotions last weekend when a friend asked him if he would support his run for Grimes' seat in the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Montgomery Republican said he had mixed emotions because he plans to run again himself.

Grimes, an insurance broker, said he will run for a third term in the House.

"It had never crossed my mind not to run," he said.

The legislator said he wanted to stop discussions that he was not running in 2010.

He acknowledged the black population has increased in his Montgomery district, but said he has a good relationship with the neighborhood associations in the black portions of his district.

"I do not see it as a black-white issue. It might be if there was a formidable candidate on the Democratic side," Grimes said.

If reelected, Grimes said he would continue to support ethics issues including banning the transfer of money between political action committees and would support issues dealing with people's rights, including their property rights. He is concerned about the use of eminent domain.

He said he supports lesser-known initiatives by Republicans to remove the state's 4-cent sales tax from groceries for certain Alabamians, but opposes the measure proposed by Democrats that would replace the revenue by increasing taxes elsewhere.

The Republican measure, Grimes said, would help those who really need it.

He also said he supports removing illegal gaming machines from facilities in the state.

As a lawmaker, Grimes has pushed for legislation to allow cities to use cameras in intersections to cite people for running red lights.

Some people in political circles had questioned Grimes' reelection chances because of his poor showing in the 2008 Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

As a sitting legislator, Grimes finished fifth out of six candidates and had trouble raising money to compete in the large district. He finished with about 4 percent of the vote.

Grimes easily won reelection to his House seat in 2006 with about 62 percent of the vote.

Grimes also said some people have talked about his health. He has said he originally decided to run in 2000 as he was recovering from multiple sclerosis.

His health improved, but Grimes uses a cane to walk. He manages his condition using medication.

“I have a walking problem -- not a thinking problem," Grimes said.

He defeated longtime state Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. in 2002 to win the District 73 seat.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

Byrne Takes on AEA, Tenure Laws

Alabama Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne says there is something "horribly" wrong with the state's tenure laws if a teacher convicted and sentenced for having sex with her eighth-grade student can still get paid a year's salary while she's serving time in a federal prison.

Washington County teacher Charlene Schmitz was sentenced to serve 10 years in a federal prison for her crime.
"It is difficult to imagine a more ridiculous scenario," Byrne said in a statement he released Wednesday. "Charged with the crime in June 2007, tried and convicted on federal charges in February 2008, and sentenced to ten years without parole in May 2008 - yet she has been paid over $75,000 in protected salary and benefits by the Washington County Schools - and that was just for the last year, while serving in a federal prison.

"The AEA and their legislative allies have protected the incompetent, and sadly, the criminal, all at the Alabama taxpayer's expense. I have a record of fighting against bad tenure laws for many years, as both a state senator and chancellor of the two-year college system. We must introduce some common sense to the AEA, and this includes reforms to prevent criminals from drawing a teaching salary while they serve time in prison," Byrne said.
"The Washington County school system tried to fire the convicted teacher, but the AEA-passed law gives tenured teachers the right to challenge their dismissal in front of an arbitrator. The arbitration cannot hold hearings, however, until Schmitz's appeals and related state charges have been resolved. According to the Associated Press and the Mobile Press-Register, Schmitz is eligible for any raises teachers may get between now and the conclusion of her case, and the school system has been forced to hire and pay another teacher to replace Schmitz.

"Last week, during the statewide tour announcing my candidacy for governor, I talked about the Three E's: Ethics Reform, Education Reform and Economic Development. The Education Reform begins with tenure reform, and it starts with passing sensible legislation to protect the competent, rid our schools of the incompetent and remove - without pay, the criminal," Byrne said.
-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bentley Takes Aim at American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

Alabama State Representative and gubernatorial hopeful, Dr. Robert J. Bentley, R-Tuscaloosa, says the American Clean Energy and Security Act, as proposed by Democrats in Congress, "will effectively serve as a death sentence for economic expansion in Alabama and in the South as a whole."

Bentley issued the statement Tuesday pointing to what he says has been the South and Alabama's ability to attract businessess because of the availability of affordable power sources.

"If this bill passes, offered under the pretenses of protecting the environment, there is no doubt that the economies of Alabama, and the rest of the South, will suffer even more than they already have," he said in the statement
“Our environment is important, and we should seek to protect it so that our children and grandchildren may enjoy and learn from it for years to come. However, we must draw the line when protecting our environment becomes a shield for political maneuvering.

"This bill is nothing more than an attempt by the liberal, Democratic members of Congress to enforce standards on businesses, which will in turn create a certain and drastic increase in taxes. This is clearly a concerted effort to fulfill President Obama’s quest to ‘spread the wealth’ around.

“The worst thing during a major decline in the economy is to raise operating costs for, and taxes on, those organizations which keep people employed. As a small business owner, I know what it is like to have families depending on you each week for a paycheck, and I also understand how difficult it is to hire new workers when your expenses and taxes continue to rise.

"This bill will no doubt make it harder for existing businesses to strive and new businesses to be created. Over 194,000 folks in Alabama do not have a job, most want one, but simply can’t find any work. If this bill is allowed to pass, this staggering number will surely increase.

“Enough is enough. It is time that we as Americans and Alabamians tell the federal government to get out of our lives. The Tenth Amendment is clear: states like Alabama should be allowed to govern themselves on certain issues, and especially on an issue like energy costs, which vary from state to state and city to city. Our state cannot afford to stand by any longer and allow the overreaching policies of a left-leaning Congress, deceivingly cloaked behind the noble aspiration of environmental protection, to destroy our economy, and our right as a state to govern itself.”

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks
Monday, June 1, 2009

Davis Stops by MCDC Before Heading Back to Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, stopped by the city of his birth Monday, to chat with folks from the Montgomery County Democratic Conference.

Davis wanted to share a little of his vision for the state and to ask for the prayers and votes of the MCDC members. While he didn't pick up an endorsement Monday night, (the Alabama Democratic Conference will make that decision as a whole), he left knowing he had the support of one of the state's most powerful politicians -- state Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery.

Knight, who is chairman of the MCDC, said that it is important to have people in office who are sensitive to the problems of the people and he believes that Davis is the candidate who has that sensitivity. Knight, who once was a candidate for Congressional District 7 when Montgomery was in that district, said there is no question that Davis is qualified for the job.

"I've known him for a number of years and he would be a great person to lead the state," he said. "He has prepared himself for this."
Knight said Davis has the acumen and the political savvy to be able to reach across the aisle and get things accomplished. It's a high compliment coming from Knight, who has had some success working with Republicans, even to the point of carrying legislation for current Gov. Bob Riley. Knight said he's also proud that he is alive at a time when the state has an opportunity to elect a black man to the office of governor.
"And he's not running because he's black," Knight said. "He's running because he's qualified."

State Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery, said while Davis would be a first for Alabama, black men running for governor and winning isn't unprecedented and he believes like Knight that Davis can win because he's qualified for the job.

"He's not running to waste time," he said. "He's serious about winning. He came to win, and the time is right and history is on his side."

Davis said he's been making the rounds having been to Mobile for several meetings and speaking engagements. He also made some fundraising calls on Monday, the first day candidates for state office could begin raising money. He heads back to Washington on Tuesday.
-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

TIM JAMES: Senate Democrats 2010 Agenda 'Manifesto for Failure'

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James said in a statement Monday that the Senate Democrats have created a "manifesto for failure for the 2010 legislative session."

Last week Senate Democrats announced a 2010 agenda that includes removing the state sales tax on groceries, expanding unemployment benefits and investing $1 billion in road construction.

James said in his opinion the Senate Democrats 2010 agenda makes electing a conservative Republican majority in that body even more urgent.

“Disguised as a prescription for working families, leaders of the Alabama Senate’s majority want to mortgage our children’s future while turning over control of state government to Barack Obama. In short, the Senate Democrats’ prescription is bad medicine for the people of Alabama," he said. “Working families suffer when politicians hike income taxes, as Democrat leaders in the state Senate aim to do.

“The unemployment benefits the Senate Democrat leaders refer to in their plan were part of a Barack Obama bait-and-switch scheme that gave us federal dollars in return for a massive unfunded mandate. It puts a severe strain on the State of Alabama’s unemployment compensation fund while squeezing small businesses to pay higher unemployment insurance premiums.

“After years of corruption and scandal, the people of Alabama want transparency in their state government. Yet the Senate Democrats turn a blind eye. They, in essence, are mocking the law-abiding people of Alabama when they claim there is no outcry for open, honest and ethical state government in Alabama.

“It’s up to us, as conservative Republicans, to take the debate to these politicians and challenge them, face-to-face. They owe the people of this Great State an explanation why we need higher taxes, scandalous government as usual, and an unconditional surrender to Barack Obama.”

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Davis to Address Montgomery County Democratic Conference

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, will address the Montgomery County Democratic Conference today at 6 p.m. Davis will speak at the AKA Service Center, 15 West South Boulevard.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

Former Chief Justice Moore to Make Announcement Today

Judge Roy Moore will make an announcement about his intentions for the 2010 election cycle at the Embassy Suites Hotel at noon. Check back here to find out if Moore is making a another run at the governor's office.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks